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Contemplating to replace Notes? You have to read this! (also available on Slideshare)


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I am the "IBM Collaboration & Productivity Advisor" for IBM Asia Pacific. I'm based in Singapore.
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The 3C of leader - leader: Clarity, Competence, Control

An organisation failing their objectives has a reflexive reaction: implement more controls. Rumor has it, some sales organisations perform daily cadence calls towards the end of a period to ensure deals close (as if time away from the customer helps).
L. David Marquet, in his book "Turn the Ship Around!" paints a different story. Like a plane needs 3 points to be defined, functional organisations need 3C to operate at peak performance: Clarity, Competence & Control.
The Leader Leader principles
I wrote a short review on Amazon, but prefer the comfort of my blog to unfold a few thoughts.
In his story David is in an interesting position. In the pecking order of the Navy he is middle management, having at least 3-4 layers of management above him (until you reach POTUS), however on his ship he is in ultimate command. On high sea that is obvious. I wonder how many division heads, country leaders, section heads. etc. can related with that and see themselves in the same location and opportunity.
The killer question he asks is about processes (Page 159): "Have your processes become the master rather than the servant?". This is a brilliant question to irritate process champions - but essential to become a high performance operation.
The stance on "guiding principles" sum it up nicely: "The guiding principles needed to do just that: provide guidance on decisions". If they lack clarity, they can't do that. Some people use role models (contemporary, historical or spiritual): "What would [insert-name-here] do", but a clearly formulated set of principles (like "We the people ....") help to stay focused.
To that extend I like IBM's core values (and the mission: "Become the most relevant company on the planet"): Dedication to every client's success, Innovation that matters - for our company and for the world, Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships. Using them to decide if in doubt helps to preserve personal integrity.
Of course you could listen to Immanuel Kant and follow the categorical imperative:"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." Or you take the shorter version as promoted by Lama Marut:"Be nice".

Enjoy your read. Makes a good present to manager too,


Flashcards - German Version: Die Lernkartei

The offspring and SWMBO had an argument about the need for Chinese tuition when attending Singapore's oldest school. You can guess who had what position. Disecting the positions and looking at interest (you remember your basic negotiation skills, do you?) it boiled down to the wish of self directed learning vs. fear of failure.
Having gone through both (I remember my Latin tuition teacher well. I loathed him and in return he pushed me within 6 month from F to A), I concluded: self direction needs skills. So one task to complete is Learning how to learn. To be very clear: no technique can replace the I want to learn, but once the want is established, being skilful helps (and reinforces the want). Cousera even has a Learn how to learn class online.
One tool, well established for learning facts (like vocabulary), are flash cards (there are others). Interestingly the Germans put some rigor into the general idea of sets of flash cards using a Lernkartei. The Lernkartei uses a spaced repetition approach proposed as early as 1885 and made popular by Sebastian Leitner.
The Learnbox as proposed by Sebasitan Leitner
In a nutshell:
At stage 1 the learner adds new learning topics (vocables, phrases, facts) in bundles of 6-10 with up to 30 cards a day. These cards are reviewed and learned until they are memorised for the session. They then go into stage 2. When reviewing stage 2 cards, successful memorised cards go to stack 3 and failed cards back to stack 1. A successful review on stack 3 promotes the cards to stack 4, while a failure demotes it to stack 1. Stack 5 cards are considered retired and are archived after one successful review.
The key of the system is the ever increasing interval between the reviews: stage 1 is reviewed daily, stage 2 every 3 days, stage 3 every 5, stage 4 every 7 and stage 5 just occasionally. There are other interval suggestions available too.
You might have guessed: that system has been put into software, more than once. One popular application is Anki (which uses the SuperMemo algorithm). Others add a social component.
All application I glanced at made one basic assumption: there is one question with one answer (which might be reversible). However reality for vocabulary is a little more complex:
A word has more than one dimension
* only limited suitability as answer
So what to do? Write a multi-facetted flash card app? A flashy diamond perhaps?


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